LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Leading the way to health justice

Posted

To the editor:

For the first time in history, the New York Health Act — a single-payer universal health care plan like Medicare, but more comprehensive, affordable and for every New Yorker — has majority support in both the state senate and Assembly. We are on our way to winning guaranteed health care in New York!

In the richest nation in the history of the world, everyone should have health care. Instead, we have a corrupt, inequitable, unaffordable, privatized system where access to health care depends on one’s ability to pay. This enriches for-profit health insurance companies at the expense of patients.

As a physician for 50 years — 36 of them in private practice in Mamaroneck — I saw up close and personal just how flawed our system is for patients and physicians. What’s more, the coronavirus pandemic has shown a bright light on its failures and its inequities. It showed us what a bad idea it is to link access to health care with employment.

Physicians don’t want to spend time fighting with insurance companies to get the care their patients need. They want to know that what they think is best for their patients will not be affordable.

The New York Health Act would change all that by eliminating this expensive middleman that adds cost but no value.

Insurance companies earn profits by avoiding sick people and denying care while collecting premiums.

The New York Health Act would provide guaranteed, comprehensive care to all New Yorkers from birth to death, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic group, income, employment or immigration status. Everyone would have their choice of doctor and hospital. Even hearing, dental, drugs and long-term care would be covered.

It sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t. It would be paid for by progressive taxes, and more than 85 percent of New Yorkers would be spending less on health care than they do now. Any increases in taxes would be off-set by the absence of all out-of-pocket payments: premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

We know it can be done.

In Canada, a single-payer health care program was first introduced in the province of Saskatchewan in 1962. It was so successful that it soon spread to the whole country, where it remains hugely popular.

We New Yorkers can lead the entire United States by passing the New York Health Act.

Elizabeth Rosenthal

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